Good morning!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and that 2022 is off to a great start. Today is the first day of our legislative session, which is the second half of a 2-year session. That means the calendar is already full, and we are starting what looks to be a very busy 5 months.

We convened at the first of December for a couple of days to complete the Senate and House redistricting. In 2010, SC’s population was about 4.6 million. Now, the 2020 census has us at just over 5.1 million.

In the Senate, this means that each district had to grow by about 11,000 people. Due to the growth in District 8, we had to adjust down about 4,000 people.

In the end, five precincts (Devenger, Del Norte, Rock Hill, Palmetto and Boiling Springs) were moved to District 6 and are now represented by Senator Dwight Loftis. Neely Farms was moved to District 9, represented by Senator Danny Verdin, because this district needed to add people.

District 8 picked up 5 precincts – Feaster, Asheton Lakes, Stonehaven, Standing Springs and Graze Branch. For more information you can visit this link for details.

We have also experienced leadership changes in the Senate after the passing of Senator Hugh Leatherman of Florence. Senator Harvey Peeler of Gaffney resigned his post as Senate President and moved to Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Senator Thomas Alexander of Walhalla moved up to Senate President from being Chairman of the Labor, Commerce, and Industry Committee (LCI), and Senator Tom Davis of Beaufort replaced him as Chairman of LCI. Chairman Peeler appointed me to the State Infrastructure Board (SIB) to represent the Senate.

Before the end of last year’s session, I was also appointed to the Senate Finance subcommittee. Our job is to come up with a recommendation of how the state should spend its portion of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, which is around $2.5 billion dollars. (This is separate from the money that each county and municipality received direct from the Federal Government.)

We are having our final meeting this afternoon to settle on the recommendations which will center around a few critical needs, such as: water and sewer, broadband, and roads – based on the eligibility guidelines.

This week we will also need to pass the Congressional Districts redistricting plan. As with the Senate and House plans, most of the issues on this plan arise in the lower part of the state, due primarily to the growth along the coast.

A few of the other issues that I think will be addressed this year are:

-Repeal of Certificate of Need (CON) laws – opening up competition in healthcare
-Education Savings Accounts – empowering parents to make the best education choices for their kids
-Income Tax reduction – we are the highest taxed in the Southeast
-More money – the last federal infrastructure bill is sending close to $6 billion to South Carolina, we have $550 million in Savannah River Site Settlement Funds, and we also have an additional $1 billion in new revenue.

If we can appropriate these funds in the right areas, it will make a huge impact for future generations.

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting Kim Howard, the new leader of Lockheed Martin’s Greenville production facility. She came here from Houston to head up the F-16 production, which is well underway. It won’t be long before we hear the “Sound of Freedom” on a regular basis.

Most everyone is looking for great team members, but I thought I would share this video that Lockheed created in an effort to recruit team members to build and sustain F-16’s.

As always, I want to thank you again for the opportunity to represent District 8 in the SC Senate. It is an honor and a privilege that I do not take lightly.

If there is anything I can do to help you navigate state government or if you just want to share your thoughts and concerns, please call my Columbia office at (803) 212-6148 and either I, or my assistant, Javell Bynoe, will be happy to help you.

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